When baloney detectors* are switched off…
Two recent events clearly illustrate the lunacy that takes hold when reason is ousted by belief. In northern KwaZulu-Natal two 60-year-old women were burnt to death in what police believe was an attempt by pupils to rid a school of evil spirits.
Police spokesperson Captain Jabulani Mdletshe said pupils from Manhlenga High School in Manguzi near Kosi Bay had started “acting strangely” since August 17.
“Many of the pupils started crying for no apparent reason. Some claimed they wanted meat during their crying,” the captain explained.
They believed that an evil spirit had possessed them.
“There were apparently a few meetings held by the pupils to discuss the matter. At one of the meetings, it was allegedly suggested that two women may have bewitched the school,” he said.
Ridiculous? Certainly! But consider this: The Christian Family Bookstore, CUM Books – I kid you not! – appears to have made a decision not to carry the book Waar hoop is, is lewe by Dutch Reformed Reverend Dr André Bartlett. All indications are that CUM regards the book to be “too liberal”, something that surprises Bartlett who remarked that he was concerned that the book might have been regarded as too orthodox by some commentators.
I cannot shed the image of a horrified CUMmer confronted by a copy of George Claassen’s Geloof, bygeloof en ander wensdenkery: Perspektiewe op ontdekkings en irrasionaliteite, wearing an alb and a purple stole and wielding a cross and brandishing a clove of garlic: “Ut piisima et Immaculáta caelórum Domina vos prótegat atique defendat” (May the Holy and Immaculate heavenly Lady protect and defend you).
A perspicacious reply would be: “Pone ubi sol non lucet!” (Put it where the sun don’t shine!)
Whatever the reason for CUM’s decision, it amounts to no less than a 21st century book burning. Bear in mind that this selfsame lot, CUM, sells Choo Thomas’ monumental tripe Heaven is so real – as well as the Afrikaans translation – Die hemel is ‘n werklikheid – a volume that has outselled all competition in the “spiritual market” in South Africa.
I hold Bartlett in high regard and know him as a man of irreproachable character. The decision to ban Bartlett from the bookshelf is disgraceful and no less idiotic than witch burning… the absence of blood loss notwithstanding.
(CUM has since apologised to Bartlett for a computer input mistake that labelled his book “out of print” instead of “available”.)
From Kathmandu it is reported that officials at Nepal’s state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft.
Nepal Airlines, which has two Boeing aircraft, has had to suspend some services in recent weeks due the problem.
The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft on Sunday at Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.
“The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights,” said Raju KC, a senior airline official, without explaining what the problem had been.
It is common in Nepal to sacrifice animals like goats and buffaloes to appease different Hindu deities: “Each Nepal Airways aircraft has a Bhairav (Head) painted on it which is smeared with the blood and hairs. All workshop tools and vehicles and ‘technical devices’ like bicycles, cars, carts, rickshaws and motorcycles are smeared with the blood and hairs of the sacrificed goats. This prevents accidents to happen during the next year.”
Ridiculous? Certainly! But any different from dedicating an asset by prayer? Certainly not!
Belief in Akash Bhairab… Ridiculous? Certainly! But any more ridiculous than belief in God? Certainly not!
* Visit Prometheus Unbound – George Claassen’s blog dedicated to calibrated baloney detectors.